Event riders who have earned the right to wear the Union Flag on their jackets by competing on a British team will no longer automatically be able to do so indefinitely.

Under 2018 British Eventing (BE) rules, only those who have ridden on senior teams will be able to keep the flag for good.

Those who have been on other teams – pony, junior, young rider or European two-star – may only wear the flag on their jackets for two years after their most recent team appearance, after which it must be removed.

A BE spokesman said: “This decision has come about via the international committee as a result of feedback from riders. This timescale has been introduced to give more gravitas to those riders who are eligible to wear a flag on their jackets.

“All riders who have previously ridden on a British eventing team will still be permitted to wear the Union Flag on their hat silks indefinitely.”

Alexander Tordoff, who rode on the British junior team in 2015, is one of many riders affected by this decision.

“There’s two ways of looking at this new rule,” he told H&H. “There are so many people who have ridden on a British eventing team, and for example those who might have ridden on a youth team 30 years ago might not still be a representation of Britain’s finest riding talent.

“But whenever I put on my jacket on with my Union Flag, it gives me a boost and it’s a good advert when competing. My family made a huge commitment to help me get on a team and I made lots of sacrifices, so it’s sad to have that taken away.”

Charlotte Bacon, who rode on the pony teams in 2012 and 2013 and who also represented Britain on the junior team in 2015 said: “It’s a fair rule but there’s obviously two sides to it.

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“A lot of time and effort goes into getting good enough results to ride for your country, but at the same time we don’t want to lose the prestige of being fortunate enough to wear a Union Flag on our jackets with hundreds of riders wearing them. All is not lost as we can still wear the flag on our hats.”

All those who have ridden on senior teams, as well as nominated individuals in a senior championship, and those who have finished first, second or third in such a championship, may keep the flag on their jackets permanently. The rule on wearing the Union Flag on hat silks has not changed.

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